Rescue efforts are focused on the logistical challenges of saving the 24 whales still alive at Spirits Bay in the Far North.
By midday, a team of about 160 rescuers was working to consolidate three groups of whales into one and move it to the stream at the southern end of Spirits Bay.
This would make it easier to keep the whales wet and comfortable and be more efficient for the rescue team, said Incident Controller Jonathon Maxwell.
Moving the whales with heavy lifting
“The spread of whales across a large beach area has added to the complexities of stranding management. We want to focus now on what we can do for the surviving whales and use our effort most effectively.”
The plan was to keep the whales in the stream overnight and move them 50km by truck to Rarawa beach for re-floatation tomorrow (Friday).
Hoist and transportation options were being developed, Mr Maxwell said.
“These animals might not be large by whale standards, but they still weigh between one and a half to two tons. We need to do our best to move them carefully and look after them on their journey.”
If today’s strong winds and high seas drop, conditions may be suitable to try a re-float at Spirits Bay tomorrow.
Although weather relief had been forecast today, a weather station at Cape Reinga shows the wind is still raging. Gusts of between 80 and 100 kilometres per hour had been recorded since the whales were reported stranded yesterday and earlier today.
Volunteers are still needed for the ongoing rescue effort. Anyone volunteering needs a thick wetsuit, wind-break clothing and be prepared to stay overnight in their own vehicle or tent. Volunteers should report direct to the Spirits Bay campground.
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